Crossing guard shortage has Palm Bay supervisor holding stop sign

By Caitlin Wilson, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 6:18 PM EDT

Palm Bay says it's short-staffed on an important job that helps your children get to and from school safely.

For almost two decades, Earline Taylor has kept the streets in Palm Bay safe for schoolkids to cross.

“We want to make sure our kids get to and from school safely, and parents feel comfortable knowing that when they come to the corner, there will be a crossing guard here that interacts with them and gets them to their destination,” she said.

Taylor worked her way up from monitoring street crossings to supervising the entire crossing guard program for Palm Bay.

Normally, she isn’t out on the streets so much anymore. But due to a shortage of more than half her staff, she’s been filling in.

“We try to take care of the needs of the schools and be there for the kids, but unfortunately, we don’t have enough people to do that right now,” Taylor said.

Taylor says the program is currently down 26 positions. For now, it only has 24 crossing guards, causing some to work double shifts to cover the elementary and middle schools. Fully staffed, she would have 50 crossing guards at 25 locations.

She even had to bring in volunteer police officers to help with the shifts.

“It’s an important job. It doesn’t take up a lot of the day. It's from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and then 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. So it’s only two hours a day. It is an important job for the community,” said volunteer cop Carlos Cheker, who is filling in as a crossing guard.

Taylor is hoping she can find more people willing to do the work that she says is a rewarding career.

“It’s rewarding when you can go home at the end of the day, and we haven’t had a tragedy, or any accidents, or anything that has happened to our children. That gives us a good sense that we are doing what we are supposed to do,” Taylor said.

For more information on the Palm Bay crossing guard program, check out job listings on the city's website.